National News Brief, Wednesday October 1

World financial crisis "not major" for NZ—yet; local business not ready for emissions trading; government to investigate power price increases; more social workers needed at schools; and more

The Herald leads with the world financial crisis. World markets tumbled again yesterday when the US Congress $700 billion bailout plan was voted down, but Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard said the short-term effect on New Zealand was "not major". The Dominion Post reports that it will likely become more difficult to borrow to buy a home. Economist Gareth Morgan told the Dom that borrowing money from banks would become more expensive and difficult. Home buyers might be able to borrow only 80 percent of the value of their home, rather than 90 percent. The dropping Kiwi dollar is good news for Dunedin-based filmmaker NHNZ. The documentary maker has picked up new business this year, according to the Otago Daily Times' front page, but is anxiously awaiting results of Congress' second bailout vote. Its major clients are American.

New Zealand companies are not ready for emissions trading, according to a survey by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development. Only 7 percent of companies are measuring their greenhouse gas emissions and just 12 percent have plans to start, reports the Press.

The government will investigate "alarming" power price increases, according to the Herald. As we noted yesterday, Contact Energy is set to increase prices by 11 to 12 per cent for customers in Wellington and the South Island. Mercury Energy's Auckland customers are about to feel the pinch too, with central city dwellers facing a 4 per cent rise, and customers in Manukau, Papakura and Franklin being charged an extra 2.5 and 5.7 per cent. National energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee said domestic power prices had risen 48 percent in the past five years, according to the Dominion Post.

High-decile high schools struggling to cope with students' behavioural problems want more social workers. A report by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research found that 81 per cent of principals at decile one and two primary schools had social workers, or were considering hiring them, compared to 17 percent of principals in decile nine and 10 schools. Two teacher conferences in Wellington this week are discussing strategies for dealing with extreme student behaviour.

After a wet and wild winter, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research forecasts a warmer-than-average spring with less rainfall. Niwa says there is an 80 per cent chance of an ex-tropical cyclone passing within 500km of New Zealand between November and May. Gisborne and Northland are at highest risk of being affected.

New Zealand wines won 11 gold medals at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London yesterday. Kiwi wines also scooped 123 silver medals and 111 bronze medals.